Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Build a Raised Bed—From 4x4 and Larger
With just a few materials, we will show you how to build a simple 4 x 4-foot raised bed for your garden. No prior DIY skills required! We hope this demonstration is helpful. Full text provided.
Raised beds have many benefits for growing vegetables, especially if your soil is poor or badly drained. And they’re easy to make with a minimum of tools.
This raised bed is a 4 x 4 size. However, you can certainly substitute a different width of wooden plank if you wish to make the bed higher
- In our opinion, a 4 x 4 bed needs a minimum depth of 6 inches of soil and is best used to grow salad crops, small onions, and shallow-rooted vegetables. Many people use 4 x 4 raised beds primarily for the crops near the house which are often salads. Most Square Foot Garden raised beds are 6 inches deep. You can certainly grow a huge range of vegetables in 6-inch deep beds, especially if the potting mix is good.
- For a few crops, 8 to 12 inches of soil depth is better. This would include carrots, parsnips, asparagus, tomatoes, and squash. So you wish to grow these deep-rooted vegetables, you might want to either prepare the ground soil underneath (make sure the soil is loosened) or make a higher bed so that it is 10 to 12 inches high or more. With shallow-rooted vegetables, a foot of soil may be wasteful so you may even want to consider separate beds.
Prepare Your Growing Area
Prepare the ground by laying cardboard over the area you wish to use for your bed. This will help to suppress any grass or weeds beneath.
Remove any tape, staples or other non-biodegradable materials from the cardboard first. Spread your cardboard all over the growing area, including any paths. Overlap the cardboard by about 6 inches to prevent weeds from squeezing up between them.
Note: When using cardboard over grass, that will soon decompose so that you’re left with plenty of soil for the roots to access lower down. However, if you’re planting immediately, a cardboard layer may affect your plants’ ability to reach down into the soil, so consider your depth requirement.
Make Your Raised Bed
For a 4 x 4-foot raised bed, we’re sawing two 8 feet long planks in half to make a square bed that is 4 feet long on each side. Making a bed this size means you can reach into the center from all sides so you never need to tread on the soil and compact it.
Drill two pilot holes in one end of each plank to make it easier to screw the walls together. Use a drill bit slightly little thinner than the screws you’ll be using. Each plank will overlap the next and will screw into the end of the end of the plank it overlaps.
Using long screws, screw the walls of your raised bed together securely.
Filling Your Raised Bed
Using garden compost in your raised bed will insure a nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive growing medium that plants love.
If the compost is lumpy and not fully decomposed, you may wish to top it with enriched topsoil specially formulated for vegetable gardening so you can start sowing and planting immediately.
Paths between beds can be covered with bark chippings on top of the cardboard, or alternatively, cut away excess cardboard from around the raised bed.
Enjoy these tips! Plan out your garden crops with our Almanac Garden Planner. Free for 7 days!